CEBU City Hall will spend P18.8 million to buy 10 parcels of land owned by the Gaisanos in Barangays Cogon Pardo and Basak Pardo in the south district, which will be used for socialized housing for its informal settlers.

The bulk of the 11,728-square-meter land the City will buy for P1,600 per square meter will become socialized housing sites, while a portion is being eyed as access road from the South Road Properties (SRP) to Pardo.

Some 50 structures in one of the lots in Cogon Pardo have already been demolished by the property owners, so the City decided to buy the other properties to prevent the eviction of the urban poor occupants.

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At least 100 more families stand to be evicted.

Cogon Pardo is a known bailiwick of the opposition, whose barangay captain, Eugenio Gabuya, is an opposition candidate for south district councilor.

He welcomed the City’s move, but said it is clearly a part of the administration’s political moves.

Before buying the property, Gabuya cautioned city officials on the dispute over the lot, which he said has other claimants.

With the elections barely three months away and Cogon Pardo being a turf of their opponents, Mayor Tomas Osmeña said the purchase of the properties is not about politics.

“It’s yes and no. Maybe the timing has to do with politics because I started to go around and I saw the situation in Cogon. It doesn’t mean to say I won’t do anything about it. The problem is staring me in the face. What am I supposed to do, just ignore it because I might be accused of politicking? That’s not fair,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.

City Councilor Jose Daluz III, chairman of the City Council committee on budget and finance, said the City could close the deal before the elections.

In an interview yesterday, the mayor said the urban poor in Sitio All Seasons and Sitio Millennium in Cogon Pardo live in a very sorry state, that is why the City has to take over the property so it can improve the area.

Aside from its occupants, Daluz said the families displaced by a fire in Barangays Calamba and Tisa earlier this year may also be relocated there.

“The urban poor in Cogon were being demolished so I negotiated with the Gaisanos and they agreed to sell it. If you look at the area, it’s so bad. If I live there I will not vote for me, I’m so ashamed because of it. A portion of the area is underwater and we have to improve it and build an elevated walkway. It’s really so bad. During the day the people can play basketball, at night they’ll be playing water polo,” Osmeña said.

During the session last Wednesday, the City Council approved 10 separate resolutions authorizing the mayor to enter into and sign the memorandum of agreement and the deed of absolute sale with Stephen S. Gaisano and Anita Y. Gaisano.

While the properties are titled under the Gaisanos’ name, the heirs of Gaudencio Gabuya claimed ownership of the lots. A case on the lot dispute is still pending in court, said Gabuya. (LCR)